Dear President Bozkir thank you very much for inviting me to this important event. It is a great pleasure to be with you although form miles away.

We strongly welcome the UN Secretary General’s Roadmap on Digital Cooperation and the decision to set up the office of the UN Tech Envoy. It aligns with the importance of the digital transformation of our economies and societies.

The UN and the European Union share a common ambition to address the pressing issue of the global digital divide.

Because technology can help us finding health solutions, fighting terrorism, mitigating climate change, or predict natural disasters and future pandemics.

It gives us a chance to deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals. Technology can facilitate inclusion and give people access to fundamental services around the world. We have seen that countries that expand internet access have enabled more children to be educated, and more women to get a job.

So to reap the full potential of new technologies we have to close the global digital gap. And how we do it will be just as crucial.

Because  we know that digitalisation also comes with serious risks. They  range from mass surveillance and cyber-attacks on critical infrastructure, to disinformation that polarise societies and undermine trust. We have seen technology used to repress minorities, extract people’s personal data without their consent, or stifle the freedom of expression.

It is for this reason that digitalisation and human rights must go together in everything we do. They are two sides of the same coin.

This is what we have been promoting in our various proposal to shape the next digital decade. The EU’s new cooperation programmes will combine strong standards for a trustworthy and safe digital space with financial resources for new digital infrastructure. We will help our partners develop their own strong digital governance frameworks, including in areas such as cybersecurity and data protection.

For a fair and inclusive digital transformation, we need an effective multilateral system.

This challenge is too big to be addressed by one country alone. We can only achieve it together. So in the coming years, we will need a revamped and more politically relevant Internet Governance Forum.

Together we will preserve the open, un-fragmented and free nature of the internet. A splintered web would be to the detriment of our human development.

We therefore need to reinforce the institutions that promote the open internet, making them more effective while reaffirming their original missions, anchored in the UN charter.

We look forward to working with all of you to achieve just that.

Thank you.